Some of the most unique and complicated friendships that formed in the twentieth century were between progressive white women and their African-American housemaids. While American literature and Hollywood have recently made noble attempts to shed light on these special relations, with such novels and films like The Help, it is never more moving than to hear directly from those who experienced these unlikely and importnat bonds of support and mentoring.
Thanks to Lani Seikaly, the director of RiverArts, we have one local example. As part of a long term oral history project, Seikaly recently interviewed Chestertown’s beloved centenarian Reba Warren about growing up in Kent County.
In this segment, Reba tells the heartwarming tale of her friendship with her employer, Francis Young of Chestertown some seventy-five years after they first met.
Not much is known of Mrs. Young. There are no photos and obituaries. By the time Francis had hired Reba, she was without a husband and her only son was attending St. Andrews School in Middletown. And so for the next four years, these two women would live and travel together, and would form part of the foundation of Reba Warren’s strong sense of self-worth and identity.
The audio lasts six minutes